Candidate for City Council, 21st Ward
Education: Keller Graduate School, Chicago,Il Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Chicago Vocational High School
Age: Not answered
Past Political/Civic Experience: Not answered
Q: Last year, the Chicago Tribune's investigative series "Broken Bonds" reported that, since 2000, Chicago had issued long-term bonds to spend nearly $10 billion, much of it for short-term operating expenses. Hundreds of millions of dollars went to delay bond payments by refinancing old debts, a tactic known as "scoop and toss" that extends payments far into the future. Was this borrowing justified? Going forward, how should City Hall change its finances to pay down existing debts and provide services? Will you argue primarily for cuts in spending or for tax increases? Please be specific.
I cannot discuss whether or not the borrowing was justified; however, I have several ideas going forward to bridge the budget gap. 1. Red Light Cameras: revenue from these cameras go into the general fund with no oversight I would support earmarking some of this revenue to other budget reducing line items. 2. There is $1.7 billion in TIFF money that is ported from one ward to another. Many of these TIFF dollars are used to fund private ventures. There should be an analyzation of this pool of funds and a redistribution of the fund pool. 3. There has been some discussion of a Tobin Tax or Commuter Tax. I would be open to further discussing this option. Lastly, 4. An Exchange Tax; this is a tax on trades made on the Board of Options. This will increase the revenue of the City of Chicago without placing additional financial burdens on the citizens who live and work and pay taxes in the city.
Q: Chicago will face a substantial increase in contributions to its police and fire pension funds in 2016. Chicago's unfunded pension liability amounts to about $7,000 for each resident of the city. How should the city solve its pension crisis? Please be specific about pension changes, spending cuts or revenue increases you would support.
I appreciate all those individuals who work to make our city a wonderful place to live, work and do business. Currently I would not change the pension plan for the city's employees. I would propose a one-time deduction from the TIF pool followed by an ordinance that would require pension funding at a set percentage as a part of a balanced budget agreement.
Q: What changes should be made in the city's use of tax increment financing? Would you support expansion or extension of TIF districts in your ward? How should excess TIF funds be spent? Do you support the $55 million allotment of TIF funds to buy land for a Marriott Hotel and DePaul basketball arena? Please explain.
As stated in answers to questions 1 and 2, I would propose changes in TIF financing. Some TIF projects fund private ventures. Public funds should be used for the long-term benefit of the community. I would propose a one-time withdrawal from the TIF pool for fund the pensions of city workers.
Q: The Tribune Editorial Board recently offered "12 ways to heal a city" — the best ideas among more than 1,000 suggestions from readers on how to craft "A new Plan of Chicago." These proposals are available at chicagotribune.com/plan. Please tell us which ideas you would champion. We invite you to offer additional ideas for dealing with Chicago's challenges.
I have taken some time to review the Editorial Board's "12 ways to heal a city..." and applaud the Editorial Board for working on the tough issues that plague our city. These 12 methods are consistent with my 5 point plan for the 21st Ward. I plan to engage all areas of the ward. 1. Community Redevelopment 2. Education 3. Gangs, Crime, and Drugs 4. Infrastructure 5. Faith Based Initiatives
Q: Should the City Council keep or abolish the office of legislative inspector general? Should the city inspector general be given the authority to investigate aldermen and their staff members? Do you have other ideas to improve government ethics in Chicago? Please explain.
The office of the legislative inspector general should be maintained and given subpoena authority. This office should not only have the authority to investigate the Alderman and Alderman's staff but the Mayor and Mayor's staff.
Q: The Chicago Public Schools system has seen significant improvements in freshmen on track and high school graduation rates. CPS has also closed dozens of schools, used fiscal 2016 revenue to balance its 2015 budget and faces a roughly $700 million pension payment in 2016. Please give us your assessment of the academic and financial performance of the city's public schools. What is the key to improving public education in the city? Should members of the Board of Education be elected by the public or continue to be appointed by the mayor? Do you support the longer school day and year? Should CPS expand or reduce the number of charter schools? How should CPS close its significant budget gap?
My ward was a victim of the school closings. Garrett A. Morgan School was closed. Children now walk a significant distance to another school. Schools can only improve when the parents and the community is involved. As the Alderman of the 21st Ward I want to develop relationships with principals and hold quarterly meetings to discuss the needs of each school in my ward. I want to be an advocate for my schools. The common core curriculum is in need of reevaluation. It is important that we ensure our children receive the best instruction and are not just taught to memorize answers to pass a test. I am not in support of a longer school day, and currently not a proponent of Charter Schools.
Q: How would you attract more employers to your ward? How would you encourage employers to hire local residents? What have you done to promote economic development in your ward?
As the Alderman of the 21st Ward I will develop an employment database. Residents can register with my office and employers within the ward can use the Alderman's office as a resource for potential employees. This becomes a "win win" for the community. Residents who live in the ward can work in the ward.
Q: Do you support or oppose the City Council vote to increase the minimum wage in several steps to $13 an hour by 2019? Please explain.
I support the increased wages for working families. I believe this wage increase should be coupled with additional job training.
Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago's lakefront? Please explain.
Yes. This museum would further increase tourism in the city. It would also be a great addition to the museum campus.
Q: How can the city improve public safety? Please address the role and performance of the Chicago Police Department and the role of neighborhood residents in crime prevention. What have you done to improve public safety in your community?
A The Chicago Police Department is undermanned. There is a need to increase our police force. I am in favor of an ordinance that would tie that manning of the department to the requests for need. Areas that receive the most requests will receive more officers.
Q: Do you support Chicago's traffic light camera program? Please explain.
My ward in inundated with red light and speed cameras. I am not a proponent of this program. It has been documented that these cameras do not increase safety but increase the revenue of the city.
Q: Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?
Yes! Four years ago, I proposed reducing the city council by 20 aldermen. The maps were being redrawn as a result of the census. Most thought that was a laughable proposition until Mayor Emanuel suggested it after he was elected.
Q: What is your highest priority for improving your ward? What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?
I will work to increase city services to the residents of the ward. Our ward has undergone economic growth at the expense of city services. Streets have pot holes, trees need trimming, deteriorating sidewalks and crumbling curbs all are in need repair.
Q: Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I have been Executive Director of an organization call CAN (Community Action Network). Through our organization we have: feed hungry families at Thanksgiving and Christmas, painted homes for seniors in our community (free of charge), donated baseballs to our little league teams, held candidate forums to familiarize residents with those individuals who seek elective office help back to school gospel programs in conjunction with neighborhood churches and distributed school supplies. I have never stopped working in our community.